Faculty and Staff

EcoQuest Faculty, Staff and Academic Associates

 

"I cannot thank the entire staff enough for a wonderful semester. You all created a special, impactful, close-knit community of enthusiastic learners ready to apply environmental, political, ecological, and cultural knowledge in the real world.”
- Isabel Lisle, University of Vermont, EcoQuest Fall 2018

 

Jono Clark

Jono Clark
Director

BS (1979) Victoria University, Wellington; Dip.Teaching (1980), Christchurch College of Education. Jono specialised in student-directed learning and high-school program and curriculum development (science, maths and outdoor studies), and has extensive experience in adult education. He is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. Jono’s personal interest in just societies has led him into a life-time involvement in development of service learning and iwi-relations. Jono maintains supportive working relationships with local iwi, local schools and the wider community of stakeholders. Jono is the key person for the EcoQuest network for international education.

Ria Brejaart

Ria Brejaart
Academic Director, Co-founder of the EcoQuest Education Foundation, Executive Trustee

Dip Parks & Recreation Management (1987); M.Appl.Sci in Ecology (1994) Lincoln University (with distinction). Ria is one of the co-founders of the Environmental Education Centre of New Zealand. She has a personal interest in community initiatives that generate conservation outcomes. Her commitment to education for sustainability and the natural sciences led her to become one of the co-founders of EcoQuest. Ria is responsible for program and curriculum development, program delivery and the development of student research. Ria supervises the EcoQuest academic team for the Ecology in Action and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Aotearoa programs. Ria maintains relationships with academic and research associates and external collaborators and liaises with the UNH-EcoQuest Academic Program Coordinator.

Chris Longson

Chris Longson
Lecturer

BSc in Zoology and Ecology (2000) Victoria University, Wellington; BSc(Hons) in Zoology (first class) (2001), Victoria University, Wellington; Ph.D. in Ecology (2008) Macquarie University, Australia. Chris has a professional interest in marine and terrestrial ecology, experimental design, data analysis and presentation. His personal interests include sustainable design and development. Chris is responsible for program delivery, development and supervision of student research, experimental design and data analysis.

David Clarke

David Clarke
Lecturer

BSc in Environmental Science (2009) National University of Ireland Galway (first class hons); PhD in Acarology, National University of Ireland Galway (2015). David has worked in Ireland as a lecturer in ecological survey techniques and sustainable resource management. He has a strong interest in terrestrial and freshwater ecology, entomology, epidemiology and human health. David shares responsibility for delivering course programs as well as developing and supervising student research projects.

Shelley Myers

Shelley Langton-Myers
Lecturer 

BSc (Hons, first class) in Zoology (2010) Massey University, Ph.D. in Biology (2014), The University of Auckland. Shelley has worked in South Carolina, USA, as a Postdoctoral Fellow researching beetle diversity in the Southern Appalachians. Her professional interests include entomology, terrestrial ecology and biogeography, while she also has strong personal interests in conservation and the environment. Shelley shares responsibility for delivering course programs as well as developing and supervising student research projects.

Kim Babbitt

Kim Babbitt
UNH-EcoQuest Academic Programme Coordinator

BSc in Wildlife Management (1984), University of New Hampshire; MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Science (1988), Texas A&M University; Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (1996), University of Florida. Kim is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs COLSA and Professor of Wildlife Ecology, UNH. She supports collaborative research initiatives and programme development.

Catherine van Gessel

Catherine van Gessel
Field Leader

BSc in Geography (2009) Otago University. Catherine has a variety of experience in sustainability fields. This includes working with local stakeholders to establish a kindergarten in a small community in rural Tanzania, outreach science communication in Western Australia, mammalian pest control in New Zealand and masters-level courses at Utrecht University (Netherlands). She has strong interests in gardening, hiking and cycling. At EcoQuest Catherine shares responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips as well as support for Directed Research Projects.

Ramon Balderas

Ramon Balderas
Field Leader

BSc in Biology, UAM, Mexico (2010); M. International Ecology, Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada and ECOSUR, Mexico (2013). Ramon is passionate about ecology and outdoor activities. He has international work experience in different conservation projects, including working with howler monkeys in the South East of Mexico, manatee conservation in Belize and Colombia, whale and marine invertebrate projects in the Sea of Cortes, Mexico, and ecological restoration projects in the Auckland region. Ramon has experience working with young adults in ecological education through field work and outreach programs. At EcoQuest, Ramon shares the responsibility for field exercises and extended field trips, as well as support for Directed Research Projects.

Michelle Brinsden

Michelle Brinsden
Field Leader

BSc in Environmental Science and Ecology (2012). Michelle has extensive experience in leading groups in the outdoors. She is passionate about ecology, especially the marine environment. Michelle has been a PADI Scuba Diver Instructor for many years, in New Zealand waters and around the world. As well as working at EcoQuest, Michelle is enrolled in graduate studies, and she works as a volunteer in reforestation and restoration activities, including control of mammalian pests. Michelle works at EcoQuest as periodic support for Directed Research Projects.

Peter Maddison

Peter Maddison
Academic Associate

BSc(Hons) in Zoology (1965), Ph.D. in Applied Entomology (1968) University of London, UK. Peter is an entomologist and ecologist. He is a gifted taxonomist who is frequently enlisted to identify species throughout the Pacific. As a consummate advocate for maintenance of biodiversity, he became President of the Royal Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand for several years. His colourful career include: serving as Councillor for Waitākere City, teaching at various institutions, managing an ecological consultancy service. In 2016, Peter entered the ranks of Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Peter has been with EcoQuest since 1999. He is a great mentor, provides academic support for EcoQuest faculty and research, and is our taxonomic auditor.

Bruce Burns

Bruce Burns
Research Associate

BSc and MSc(Hons) in Botany (1980, 1982), Auckland University; Postgraduate Diploma in Natural Resources (1984), Lincoln University; Ph.D. in Biogeography (1991) University of Colorado. Bruce is the immediate past president of the New Zealand Ecological Society and Trustee of WWF-New Zealand. Bruce is a Lecturer in Plant Ecology (School of Biological Sciences), University of Auckland. He provides academic support for EcoQuest faculty and research.

Isabel Castro

Isabel Castro
Research Associate

BSc (1985), Universidad de los Andes, Colombia; MS in Environmental Biology (1987), Eastern Illinois University; Ph.D. in Behavioural Ecology (1996) Massey University. Isabel is a Lecturer in Ecology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. She supports collaborative research with EcoQuest and UNH.

Danielle and Thomas

Danielle Bradley
Research Associate

BSc in Zoology and Microbiology (2006), Massey University, Palmerston North; MSc in Zoology (First Class Honours) (2009), Massey University, Palmerston North; Ph.D. in Ecology and Biodiversity (2012), Victoria University of Wellington. Danielle was a lecturer at EcoQuest in 2013 and 2014. Danielle is now a Molecular Ecologist in the Ecological Genetics Lab at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research. Her current research involves developing environmental DNA (eDNA) applications for population genetic and genomic analyses of kiwi, and identifying genetic drivers of kiwi behaviour and how these link with the gut-microbiome through the gut-brain axis. Danielle supports collaborative research with EcoQuest.